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Give…

Give and it will be given unto you… Freely you have received…freely give…

Giving sounds so simple, fun, rewarding… So why it it that we so often have a hard time giving? Why do we measure in our minds whether or not to give and why and how? Where’s the ‘freedom’ God promised?

The truth is that God has a profound blessing hidden for us in the act of giving. It is a blessing forever established in His Word.  Yet many times we fail to understand the truth and power God wants us to live by. What is it really all about, this biblical principle of giving? Is God asking us to give in order to ‘get’? And why does the Bible talk so much about money? We know Jesus mentioned money more than he did almost any other matter. Yet Jesus was a man of truly humble means. God’s Son didn’t even have a roof over His head, other than the skies above. What is giving in the Bible all about? You may be surprised to find out…

The blessing of giving is not about money at all.  Giving is about heart attitude, worship, service and getting into right relationship with God.

Here’s a short history lesson on the biblical subject of giving. God instituted the ‘tithe’ for the people of Israel.  The tithe was one-tenth of the ‘first fruits’ or earnings of God’s people. It was money God’s people were to set aside for service unto God. Why? Did God need this $$? No. However, He knew we would need it to build, to establish, to trade… Yet, Jesus warned, “You cannot serve both God and money…you will either love the one or hate the other.”

Bible history about giving also takes us back to the 10 Commandments. God designed us to serve Him and to have no other gods before Him. This is where people often miss the meaning of giving and God’s purposes. Did God set His commands to harm us? God forbid! No, God’s sole desire in establishing His commandments was to BLESS. Like any earthly parent, God’s desire is only for our best. But knowing us through and through, God knew that the human heart, unredeemed by His grace…was prone to failure. Our ‘default’ is set to ‘sin’. Without Jesus, without God’s commands, we end up setting up ‘other gods’ – our homes, business, bank accounts, investments, our bodies, fitness and ‘image’…you name it.

Giving is God’s way of bringing us back to Himself. You see, at the very depth of who God is…He is a GIVER. He is the Lord and Giver of Life. And God, who has made us in His image, desires us to grow more into His likeness. His very nature is GIVING.

When we give as God desires us to do…it may be just 1/10 th of your substance…it may be much more, we exercise faith, trust and hope in God. We align ourselves with our Creator. We make Him our ‘first love’, and under this relationship, we have 100% care and protection no matter what storms, needs or wants may come our way in life. God calls us to GIVE in order to LIVE.  He calls us as He always did, to support the works of God through practical support of ministries: “Those who do not go (to do the Lord’s work) should contribute toward the expenses of those who do, and also supply them with clothing, transportation, supplies for the journey, and a freewill offering…” Ezra 1:4

Don’t just think about giving…DO it. Faith is about doing. Giving is about living. There’s freedom, blessing and a drawing close to the very heart of God when you give from a cheerful heart.

Do you want to be closer to God? Give

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Life Lesson: Stuck!

I live in a four-storey walk up called ‘The Bronx’. I always wanted to live in New York City. God has a sense of humour. I live in a city smack in the middle of the Canadian prairies, in a shabby building called ‘The Bronx’ apartments. The building sits in a ‘mixed-use’ area of shops, social service buildings and high end condos. ‘The Bronx’ wasn’t always a mess.  A few years ago there was an enthusiastic caretaking couple who took pride in keeping the property looking great. No more. Today the building is pockmarked by blown garbage and discarded furniture. The caretaker, a young student, is a nice person, but she’s seldom around. Garbage is removed from the front lobby once a month. Vacuuming takes place two or three times a year. No point complaining. Fellow tenants have warned me that the building’s owners hate tenant complaints. They have hundreds waiting for apartments. They don’t give a hoot. In short, we’re stuck.

I was tired of being stuck. The back stairwell stunk. I knew it was last cleaned about six months ago. It was a mess of spilled garbage, coffee stains and who knows what. On my way back from getting groceries, I picked up a newsletter. It looked interesting. Trudging up the smelly and dirty stairwell, I was struck by the front page article of the newsletter. I felt I could relate, it was entitled ‘Stuck in the Mud’, a Jewish teaching about life lessons.

The article said that whoever and whatever one may encounter in the ordinary path of life, there is always a lesson to be learned about how to serve God.

The story described a busy class of students studying Torah. Suddenly the class was interrupted by a knock on the door.  A poor peasant told the class his tradewagon — his whole livelihood — was stranded, stuck several feet deep in mud. He asked for help. The students looked at each other. They began making excuses…we can’t this, we can’t that. We can’t. We can’t. We can’t!  Later the students were reprimanded by their Rebbe. He  said they had failed to show respect because all are instructed by Torah to help those in need. However, the story also pointed out that even if a situation isn’t about helping someone in need we should always think about whether or not God is trying to teach us something in a given situation.

Hmmm…I thought about my filthy apartment stairwell. The garbage smells, the dust, the grime…the lazy or absent caretaker…a nice person…I had helped her out in the past…But I had sworn never to do so again…I can’t! It’s NOT my job! I can’t, I can’t…

“Each of us has a divine mission, a spiritual task only we can accomplish,” the newsletter article continued. At times the task  or situation we face may seem overwhelming. It may not make sense that we should take it on. We may feel spiritually stuck in the mud. We may feel the task is interrupting something important. We will find excuses why we can’t do it. The article further explained that the ability to accomplish a task is always God-given. In fact — God may be giving us an opportunity to learn a life lesson. This will apply to a mundane task as much as a ‘higher’ task. It will apply to work that must be done on a physical level. God wants us to be willing to transform the world to make it a place of goodness, kindness and a dwelling for godliness. Each of us is given what we need to do what is asked of the task that may lay before us. But the decision to do or not to do is our choice. The desire to do the task must come from within. The will to do a task – that is ours.

The article concluded with pretty basic advice: “So when it comes to doing a mitzva (commandment) or an act of kindness or goodness, don’t be stuck in the mud.”

I got the message. I got out of the muck today. The stairwell took less than an hour to clean.

Then it started raining, pouring rain, much-needed rain after endless weeks of dry, hot weather.

hmmmm…Life lessons… not always easy.  🙂